What are the Best Fairway Woods?
We've tested all of the current models head-to-head on a launch monitor to determine the year's best golf fairway woods (read how we conducted the test).
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If you’re in the market for any new equipment this year, make sure you read our guides to the best drivers, most forgiving drivers, hybrids, irons, mid-handicap irons, wedges and putters and use our recommendations to narrow your shortlist. And, if you can, get fitted for your clubs, as that’s the only way to optimise new models for your game.
Here are the best-performing fairway woods that deserve a space in your golf bag in 2021...
RRP £279 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 15° (3W) / 16.5° (3HL) / 18° (5W) / 21° (7W) / 24° (9W) | Stock shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue FW 6/5 | Adjustable hosel: No
If, like most club golfers, you want to hit your fairway woods as far as possible, because extra distance means shorter approaches into par 5’s, or reaching a long par 4 in two, you absolutely cannot ignore the TaylorMade SIM2 Max. We were completely blown away by its performance.
For a good few years now, TaylorMade fairways and hybrids have been right at the top of the tree when it comes to speed and power. So it’s not too surprising the TaylorMade SIM2 Max was our longest fairway of the year. In fact, our test pro found that distances were so close to what he gets from his driver that he'd consider moving up in loft from 15° to 16.5° – something worth looking at if you go for a fitting. Being able to increase the loft means you'll get more height and therefore more stopping power when using your fairway woods for shots into the green.
The TaylorMade SIM2 Max isn't just powerful; it's forgiving, too. It dropped just 2.4% more carry distance between good and bad strikes than the most forgiving fairway wood of the year, and 6.3% less than the least forgiving.
The SIM2 Max has a slightly bigger footprint than TaylorMade's SIM2 Titanium, making it more confidence inspiring. It looks good and sounds good, too.
All in all, the TaylorMade SIM2 Max is a fantastic fairway wood for 2021.
RRP £279 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 15° (3W) / 16.5° (4W) / 18° (5W) / 21° (7W) | Stock shaft: Honma Speed Tuned 55 | Adjustable hosel: No
One thing our test data has highlighted across the board this year, from drivers to fairway woods, hybrids and irons, it’s that Honma know a thing or two about getting lightweight, draw-enhancing clubs to perform. In all categories, the Honma T//World GS (Gain Speed) range has been outstanding.
Our test pro’s data has the Honma T//World GS amongst our two longest fairway woods of the year, whilst also placing top for protecting carry distance on mishits, dropping just 5.1% of distance on a poor strike.
The Honma T//World GS looks the part, too. There's no offset head or closed face angle to deal with, which is often the case with draw-biased clubs. The Honma T//World GS fairway wood does everything with a really neutral, desirable and attractive head shape, which isn’t often the case with true game improving models.
If you have a moderate swing speed or find fairway woods difficult to launch from the turf, the Honma T//World GS is an absolutely brilliant option.
RRP £299 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 14.5° (3W) / 17.5° (5W) / 20.5° (7W) / 23.5° (9W) | Stock shaft: Ping Alta CB Slate / Ping Tour | Adjustable hosel: Yes (+/- 1.5 loft adjustment and up to a 3° flat lie)
Ping are renowned for making very forgiving clubs and the Ping G425 Max fairway wood is no exception.
We spent lot of time trawling through our data to see if Ping’s new fairway and hybrid ‘spinsistency’ face story really stacks up. In Neil’s preferred Mitsubishi Tensei Orange shaft, the Ping G425 Max was 4th best at protecting spin difference between shots, but more importantly it was also just 0.2% back from the lowest carry distance drop off, which is exactly the sort of additional consistency Ping are raving about.
Does that mean ‘spinsistency’ works? Well, put it like this, we’d rather have any advantage in our favour, especially when you realise the drop off of some of the fairways was double that of the Ping G425 Max.
The Ping G425 Max has a flatter sole than most other fairway woods, a lower profile head and less face height, which combine to give a really friendly and confidence inspiring appearance at setup.
After getting used to Ping’s crown turbulators over the years, we thought removing them to incorporate the new face wrap tech might look a bit odd. But the Ping G425 Max looks super clean and slick.
In our book, you really can’t go wrong with the Ping G425 Max fairway wood.
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RRP £299 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 13.5° (3W+) / 15° (3W) / 18° (Heavenwood) / 21° (7W) / 23° (9W) / 25° (11W) | Stock shaft: Project X Cypher / Project Z HZRDUS Smoke | Adjustable hosel: No
Just like the Callaway Epic drivers this year, we reckon 9 out of 10 golfers will prefer the head shape of the lower MOI Epic Speed fairway over the Epic Max. But, with our test data showing almost twice as much carry distance drop off (25 yards to 13 yards) on off-centre hits with the Epic Speed, the Epic Max is the model most Callaway fans should be playing.
The Callaway Epic Max head is bigger all-round than the Epic Speed, and thanks to 14g and 2g sole weights, golfers can tailor launch and ball flight to how they want to see it. For Neil, extra forward mass was a really good option as it added seven yards of carry distance.
At lower swing speeds, switching weight to the rear created an additional 600 RPM of backspin and an extra three yards of height, plus a steeper descent angle, helping keep shots in the air for longer to maximise carry distance.
RRP £249 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 3+ - 13.5° / 3 - 15° / 5 - 18° / 7 - 21° | Stock shaft: Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black 60 | Adjustable hosel: No
The Srixon ZX fairway wood very nearly snuck amongst our top performers of the year.
The head is very cute, almost triangular in shape, and our test pro really liked the sound and feel.
It’s also very powerful, ranking amongst our longest fairways of the year (tied 2nd with the Honma T//World GS).
The only reason we didn’t quite feel the Srixon ZX was top performer material was a lack of forgiveness. It losts 25 yards of carry distance on off-centre hits, which is a significant drop-off. Spin rates varied quite a lot on poor strikes, too.
It's still a really desirable fairway wood for 2021, but one to test for yourself before buying.
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RRP £279 (£449 Premium) | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 13.5º, 15º, 16.5º (RH only), 18º (RH only) | Stock shafts: KURO KAGE Black DC, TENSEI AV Series Blue Raw, HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX and TENSEI AV Series White Raw | Adjustable hosel: Yes (SureFit allows for 16 independent loft and lie settings)
We very rarely recommend ‘players’ style fairway woods as it’s no secret they can be punishing for club golfers. But the Titleist TSi3 performed very well for our test pro, so it would be unfair not to highlight and reward it’s performance.
Our data has the Titleist TSi3 down as our joint 4th longest fairway of the year.
The Titleist TSi3 didn’t rip up any trees in terms of ball speed protection but it was 3.5% better at protecting carry distance than the Srixon ZX.
For accomplished players who back themselves to hit the middle of the face, the Titleist TSi3 is a strong option, especially as it's one of very few models to offer a movable sole weight that lets you dial in your preferred shot shape.
RRP £180 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 15º, 18º, 21º | Stock shaft: PXG insist on fitting golfers to their best performing option | Adjustable hosel: Yes (+/- 1.5º)
PXG’s goal for the 0211 family was to design a range that performs for a very wide audience of golfers for sensible money. In our tests, the PXG 0211 fairway, like the matching driver, hybrid and iron, performs exceptionally well against the leading competition.
A lot of club golfers will love the slightly bigger head (compared to PXG's smaller 0341 X), because it manages to look really friendly and forgiving without appearing big and clunky.
The PXG 0211 offers a good blend of spin control and forgiveness, without focusing on either one at the expense of the other. It delivered decent distance, averaging over 250 yards. It was also very good for protecting carry distance (4th best), which means we reckon it’s a great fairway wood for club golfers.
RRP £329 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 3-14° / 3-15° / 5-19° | Stock shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei AV Raw Blue 75 | Adjustable hosel: Yes (+/- 2°)
Since TaylorMade introduced titanium fairway woods to their line-up, the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have all made the switch to titanium.
A common reason we hear for making the switch is not more distance, but how players get the same ball speed from more loft. That means Rory and co can increase loft and hit shots higher, which means they stop quicker on approach shots, without sacrificing distance.
As good as the TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium is, we don't think it will be a particularly popular choice among the public. Why? Because the TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium's clever construction means a price tag of £369. The vast majority of club golfers will prefer the TaylorMade SIM2 Max as it delivers maximum power for less cash.
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RRP £299 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 13.5° / 15° / 16.5° / 18° / 21° | Stock shafts: Project X Cypher / Project X Hzrdus Smoke IM10 / Mitsubishi MMT | Adjustable hosel: No
Year on year, as more golfers realise bigger footprint fairways are more forgiving, cute little fairway wood heads are disappearing fast. But if small and cute is your thing, you really need to have a look at the Callaway Epic Speed in 2021, because it’s a cracker.
The Callaway Epic Speed head didn’t quite bag top spot for ball speed or carry distance, but it was the 6th longest fairway of 2021 and just three yards back from the longest (the TaylorMade SIM2 Max).
As enthusiastic as we are about the Callaway Epic Speed fairway wood, it’s worth sprinkling a few droplets of reality into any buying decision. Remember, at some stage you will likely face a fairway wood shot over sand or water. Our data shows a slightly necked shot with the Callaway Epic Speed fairway is likely to cost you 25 yards, which means a sandy or watery grave for your ball, whereas the more forgiving Callaway Epic Max with a drop off of just 13 yards is much more likely to see you over the danger and keep your score going.
RRP £229 | VIEW OFFER
Lofts: 14° / 17.5° | Stock shaft: Fujikura Motore X F1 / Fujikura Motore X F3 / Project X Even Flow Riptide | Adjustable hosel: Yes (+/- 1.5° with three Draw settings)
If you’re the type of above average swing speed player who hits a lot of fairway woods from the tee box, we reckon the Cobra Radspeed Big Tour will do a really decent job for you. Be under no illusions, anyone considering the model will need really good amounts of club speed to successfully launch this low and forward CG fairway from the tee or turf.
As you’d expect with any tour level offering, the Cobra Radspeed Big Tour's head sits really nicely at address, and despite the name it’s not actually that big at all.
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If you’ve tried Cobra fairway woods before and not been a huge fan of the sole rails, you’ll be pleased to hear the Big Tour’s are virtually non-existent compared to the standard Cobra Radspeed.
In the hands of our test pro, the Cobra Radspeed Big Tour was the joint 4th longest fairway wood of the year, it also only dropped four yards more carry distance than the most forgiving fairway wood in the test. Put all that together and we reckon the Cobra Radspeed Big Tour will be a good performer in the hands of fast swing speed players.
How we conducted our 2021 Fairway Woods test
– We gathered all of the 2021 fairway woods at our indoor test lab at Keele Golf Centre.
– TG Test Pro Neil Wain did the testing, while Equipment Editor Simon Daddow collected data.
– We used Callaway Chrome Soft X Triple Track balls and a Foresight GC Quad launch monitor to create the most reliable data possible.
– We recorded how shots launched, span, peaked and dropped out of the air, before crunching the numbers to come up with our conclusions.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Simon Daddow is the Equipment Editor at todaysgolfer.co.uk